Submitted on Tue, 2014-08-26
By Imaad Shoukathullah

New Harvard Study Reports a 5% Drop in Americans without Health Insurance

Obamacare Success

A joint study conducted by the federal government and Harvard University, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, estimates that 10.3 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage primarily due to the Affordable Care Act. During the open enrollment period (September 2013 to April 2014), the total number of uninsured Americans dropped from 21 percent to 16.3 percent.

While the total uninsured rate is expected to be cut in half by 2016, reforms enacted by ACA legislation are already having their intended effect. States that expanded Medicaid saw the steepest declines in uninsured rates. In addition, segments of the population that saw the biggest increases in coverage include Hispanics, blacks, and young adults ages 18 to 34.


Link Between Uninsured Rate and Affordable Care Act Enrollment

Researchers noted that the data available for this study is limited and can only provide suggestive associations. Depending on statistical models used, the estimated 10.3 million adults that have gained coverage could range from 7.3 million to 17.2 million. However, they also found overwhelming evidence of a link between the decreased uninsured rate and Affordable Care Act enrollment. The report states:

“In conclusion, we found that the number of Americans without health insurance declined significantly since the ACA open-enrollment period began in October 2013. The patterns of coverage changes were consistent with the eligibility criteria in the law regarding subsidized coverage and HHS statistics on state-level enrollment in ACA programs.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell touted the findings of the report as a sign that this legislation is working for Americans.

“We are committed to providing every American with access to quality, affordable health services and this study reaffirms that the Affordable Care Act has set us on a path toward achieving that goal,” she said in a statement. “This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states.”


Better Access to Care for More Americans

The study, based primarily on an analysis of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the largest national daily poll on health issues conducted through telephone survey from January 2012 through June 2014, found that Americans have better access to care in 2014. For millions more Americans, this means that they have a personal doctor and can afford to pay for medical coverage.

Major findings from the report:

  • The uninsured rate declined by 5.2 percentage points by the second quarter of 2014
  • An estimated 10.3 million adults gained health insurance coverage
  • States that expanded Medicaid experienced major gains in coverage
  • States without Medicaid expansion saw smaller changes for low-income adults
  • Declines in the uninsured rate were most significant among Hispanics, blacks, and adults ages 18 to 34
  • More adults reported having a personal doctor within the first 6 months of gaining insurance
  • More adults reported having fewer difficulties paying for medical care 12 months after gaining coverage
  • Coverage gains were significant both in states with Medicaid expansion and in those without Medicaid expansion


The Definitive Guide for Maximizing Billing and Revenue Potential

Local Health Departments should be preparing for newly insured patients. Our brand new Revenue Cycle Playbook is a comprehensive approach to public health billing based on major changes as a result of the Affordable Care Act. This easy-to-understand game plan will helps agencies of all sizes learn how to capture revenue while ensuring that health services are available to everyone in your community. Schedule a meeting and we’ll take a moment to walk you through this exciting new Playbook.


Learn More About Local Health Departments and the Affordable Care Act:

About the Author

Imaad Shoukathullah works as a Healthcare Analyst for Upp Technology’s SMART Health Claims Division. Working closely with a number of health departments to improve clinic work flow, revenue enhancement, and technology advancement, Imaad’s objective is to help local health departments better serve their community and patients. You can contact Imaad at

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